Handfuls on Purpose
by James Smith, 1943
THE COMING KINGDOM. Micah 4:1-8
There is a "kingdom" coming, as predicted by the prophets and foretold by our Lord and His apostles; a kingdom such as this world has never known. This kingdom will come when the King Himself appears. He who died for the world will yet assert His "right to reign" over it. When He comes to rule the nations, then that prayer He taught us in the days of His flesh, "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven," will be abundantly fulfilled. "His kingdom is not of this world." It can never come out of present world conditions. It will come from God, and with "God our Savior," who shall appear in "power and great glory" (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).
I. Jesus as King Is Coming Again. As a Prophet He has appeared; as a Priest He now appears in the presence of God for us; as King He shall yet appear, and perfect His great work by bringing the world into subjection to His will; and when His redeemed people who have suffered for Him here shall share His honor and glory (1 Corinthians 6:2; Rev. 5:10). This is something of the grace that is to be brought unto us at the Revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13). He is coming; yes, coming in Person as a Glorious Victor, just as He was seen to go (Acts. 1:11).
II. When is this Kingdom Coming? Micah says: "In the last days it shall come to pass" (v. 1). The "last days," not of the world's history, but of this present age. The day or the hour of His appearing no man can know; but the signs of the "last days" are something given us whereby we might know that the day of His appearing is drawing near. We are assured that in the last days perilous times will come (2 Timothy 3:1). These last times will be dangerous, hazardous, involving terrible risk: "Distress of nations with perplexity, men's hearts failing them for fear, while they are looking after those things which are coming on the earth." Then, while all such conditions are with us, "shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:25-28). Are these "signs" with us now or not? Many of these sorrows have always been with mankind, but in these "last days" they become "signs," as the world has no remedy for its own diseases. These signs are danger signals.
III. The Characteristics of His Kingdom, as revealed by this prophecy.
1. It will be Centered at Jerusalem. "The mountain of the House of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills and peoples shall flow into it" (v 1, R.V. ). Where else could this heavenly kingdom find its capital but in His own City. Even there where He Himself was crucified for the world's sin. Blessed thought, where His Cross of suffering and shame was lifted up, there will be His Throne of dominion, the symbol of power and victory over all His enemies. "The House of the Lord" will then be worthy of His Holy Name, when all peoples shall flow into it, and every tongue confess that He is Lord, Jerusalem will again become a praise on the earth.
2. It will be Universal. "Many nations shall come.... He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths, and the Word of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem" (v. 2). The heathen shall be given Him for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession (Psalm 2:8). He who hung on a Cross will yet have a world bowing before Him. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive this honor and glory and dominion (Isaiah 9:7).
3. It will be Peaceful. "He shall judge... and rebuke. . . they shall beat their swords into plowshares... and shall learn war no more" (v. 3). What a deliverance for a world now lying in wickedness! His Name shall be Prince of Peace, and the government shall be upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6). In that day the "prince of this world," now working in the children of disobedience, will be utterly overthrown. Meanwhile, let us hear and rest in His own comforting words: "Let not your heart be troubled... you believe in Me... I will come again" (John 14:1-3).
4. It will be Abundantly Prosperous. "They shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig tree, and none shall make them afraid" (v. 4). No fear of raiders, or pestilence, or drought, for the wilderness and the desert shall blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water. There shall be joy and gladness, "and sorrow and sighing shall flee away" (Isaiah 35). No more anxious scanning of the sky, sighing for the refreshing rain; all the elements in earth, air, and sea under His control, and made subservient to the good of His people (Isaiah 12).
5. It will be a Time of Great Joy. To His ancient people it will be a national resurrection, for "The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads" (Isaiah 35:10). Micah tells us: "In that day, says the Lord, will I assemble her that halts, and gather her that is driven out, and the afflicted; and I will make her a strong nation, and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion... forever" (vv. 6, 7). What a reunion for this halting, scattered, and afflicted people. Truly their restoration will be as "life from the dead." A saved and happy nation! What a mighty influence they will have on the peoples of the earth. But what about the Church? Those who belong to Christ now? Ah, "Christ the first fruits." Afterward, "they that are Christ's at His Coming. For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet" (1 Corinthians 15:23-25).
THE LORD'S CONTROVERSY. Micah 6:1-8
"Hear you, O mountains, the Lord's controversy" (v. 2) After all that He has done for His people, why should there still be a "controversy" between them? Even God's chosen ones are often stubborn. God has had a controversy with humanity since Adam's fall. The great mission of the Lord Jesus Christ was that of reconciliation. Hear His—
I. Sorrowful Questions. What pathos is in them, revealing His heart agony.
1. "O My people, What have I done unto You?" (v. 3). Think of what I have done for you! Think of how you have requited My longsuffering patience, and kindness toward you. O My people, redeemed by the precious Blood of Christ, what have I done unto you, that your heart is so cold toward Me, and your service so formal and fruitless?
2. "Wherein have I wearied you? testify against Me" (v. 3). Is it possible to get wearied of God? We may possibly get wearied in His service. Surely never of it. If spiritual things are becoming wearisome to your soul, would you dare to "testify against Him," that His dealings with you are not in harmony with His revealed will? It is a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? (Isaiah 7:13).
II. Mercies Recalled. "O My people, remember" (v. 5). How grievous it must be to our Heavenly Father when we grow weary of Him through forgetfulness of His benefits. Remember He says—
1. That "I Brought you up out of Egypt" (v. 4). Remember that I broke the power of your oppressors, and led you forth into joyful freedom. Brethren, let us never forget that it was the loving grace of God that delivered us from the power of sin, the bondage of the world, and the delusions of the Devil, into the blessed liberty of "sons of God."
2. That "I Redeemed You." The price Jehovah paid to redeem Israel out of Egypt was His terrible judgments upon her enemies. But the price He paid to redeem us from guilt and sin was the life and Blood of His own Beloved Son. "He gave Himself a ransom for us." Remember, you are not your own, you have been bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and spirit, which are His.
3. That "I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam" (vv. 4, 5). These three leaders are typical of a threefold blessing: Moses, the legislator; Aaron, the intercessor; Miriam, the song leader (Exod. 15:20, 21). The word, the worship, and the praise. Has He not also given us His Word, like Moses; liberty of access, like Aaron; and the song of victory, like Miriam. Thanks be unto God who gives us the victory.
4. That "I turned Balaam's intended curse into a blessing" (v. 5; see Numbers 23:11, 12). What a wonderful proof this is of the overruling power of God on behalf of His people. Take no anxious thought for your life. He cares for you.
III. Personal Perplexities. In verses 6, 7, we have language that might well become an anxious sin-smitten soul, seeking the favor of God. "With which shall I come before the Lord" (v. 6). With what shall I come, that I might find acceptance in His eyes? This old question is ever and anon burrowing its way into Spirit-awakened minds and hearts. There is a deep conviction that something is needed. But what that something is remains a mystery to those who know not Jesus Christ as their Redeemer. "Shall I come with burnt-offerings? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" (v. 7). Abraham was willing to give his only son Isaac, but God provided Himself with an offering. "Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world." It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). There is absolutely nothing man can offer God that can in any way take the place He has given the Christ, who Himself bore our sins to the accursed tree. Anything we can offer, apart from Him, is but an insult to His Cross. In that Cross there is the "with which" we can come boldly before the Lord.
IV. The Way Revealed. "He has showed you, O man, what does the Lord require of you. To do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with your God" (v. 8). Many proud and worldly people quote these words to justify themselves before God and men. They say, "I do justly; I love mercy and walk humbly." Yes, but no experience of truly walking with God! It is easy for us to talk of justice, mercy, and humility, while we may know nothing experimentally of the reconciling Blood of His Cross. "How can two walk together except they be agreed?" How can we be agreed with God if we are persistently ignoring the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on our behalf? We may do justly and love mercy, but to humbly walk with your God is impossible without a new birth, a new spirit, and an entire surrender of ourselves to Him in the daily life.
REJOICE IN THE LORD. Micah 7:7-20
"The joy of the Lord is your strength." The closing words of this prophet give us abundant cause for this joy, for his God is our God. See here—
I. His Joyful Confidence. The following utterances in view of very depressing conditions, seem to be the spontaneous expressions of a satisfied and joyful heart
1. "I will Look unto the Lord" (v. 7). The upward look to the believing soul is always a clear one, even when the outward and the inward look is dark, cloudy, and foreboding. "Look unto Me, and be you saved."
2. "I will Wait for the God of my Salvation" (v. 7). The look may be like a flash, but we must also quietly wait for Him The waiting time may be the testing time; but if we are waiting for God's salvation it will surely come.
3. "When I Fall I shall Arise." So that the joy of the enemy over the fall shall be quickly spoiled (v. 8). "Falls" are not to be expected, for "He is able to keep you from falling." When you do fall, either openly or secretly, arise before the enemy gets time to rejoice.
4. "When I Sit in Darkness, the Lord shall be a Light unto me" (v. 8). Blessed darkness, when all the light we have is in His Holy Presence. "Yes though I walk through the valley of the shadow I will fear no evil, for You are with me" (Psalm 23).
5. "I will Bear the Indignation. . until He Plead my Cause" (v. 9). When stricken by the chastening hand of God it is good just to bear the stroke until He plead my cause, as Job did, and God did plead his cause and reward his patience.
6. "He shall Bring me to the Light, and I shall Behold His Righteousness" (v. 9). The patient, trustful sufferers He shall bring into the light, and cause such to behold his righteousness in all His dealings with them, for He does all things well. And at last, when He brings us into the glorious light of our Redeemer's face, and behold His righteousness in all His dealings with us while pilgrims and strangers on the earth, what a revelation, what joy, what cause for praise!
II. Joyful Reasons for Such Confidence. In these verses (18-20) we have what has been recognized as an unparalleled expression of the gracious character of our God. "Who is a God like unto You?" Here are seven things He does for His people.
1. He Pardons Iniquity. What a comfort to know that His pardon can extend to our lack of rectitude, or moral principle, in our dealings with our fellow-men. Such sins may not always be apparent to others, but they are naked in his eyes.
2. He Passes by the Transgression. He is willing to overlook our trespasses against His holy law and our presumptuous intruding into the holy domain of His Presence, as when we come before Him in our pride and self-confidence.
3. He Retains Not His Anger forever. His anger is as just and as holy as His love. But in grace He retains not His anger, because love has triumphed. We may well rejoice as we see the proof of this in the gift of His Son (John 3:16).
4. He Delights in Mercy. We do not read that He delights in judgment. "As I live, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he should turn from his way," for "He delights in mercy." Herein lies the hope of sinful men.
5. He will have Compassion and Subdue our Iniquities. To conquer and subdue is something deeper than merely to forgive. This he does for us by the Incoming of His mighty Spirit into the citadel of the soul
6. He Casts all our Sins into the Depths of the Sea. This is, of course, figurative language. They are buried where there can be no resurrection, into the depths of His eternal forgetfulness. "Behind His back," where His holy eyes can see them no more (Isaiah 38:17).
7. He will Perform His Promises to His believing children. "He is faithful that has promised." All these gracious features constitute a true likeness of the Father, as revealed to us in the face of Jesus Christ, who appeared as the image of the invisible God, and who said, "Him that comes unto Me I will in no wise cast out." Rejoice in the Lord.